Greatest Drives Latest

  • Around the Coast in 8 Days
    Amazing coast drive using only A & B roads and keeping the sea in view wherever possible all in the target of 8 days. We did this nutty trip to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Association of Great Britain and raised the sum of £4000+...
    by SeanM at April 13th, 2013 at 3:35pm
  • Northumberland National Park
    We drove this route on the way back from Edinburgh en route to York. Northumberland is a relatively hilly national park but this is why the A68 is so much fun. A short while after Jedburgh to the north you cross the summit of a mountain range where the Sc...
    by electrobooks at April 6th, 2013 at 10:12pm
  • Dartmoor National Park
    The B3357/B3212 between Tavistock and Moretonhampstead is a cracking little blast over Dartmoor encompassing some great views, fast sweeping bends over some serious elevation change and an abundance of sheep all in one handy package. This makes for a fas...
    by SilverArrows at January 4th, 2013 at 12:09pm

Car News Latest

  • Porsche 911 Carrera T revealed as pared-back variant Sunday 22nd October 2017
    Porsche 911 Carrera T revealed as pared-back special Performance upgrades and a stripped-down interior take the 911 Carrera T back to basics, for £85,576

    Porsche has dipped into the parts bin created for the highly regarded 911 R and more recently unveiled 911 GT3 Touring in developing the latest in a long line of 911 models – the new 911 Carrera T (for Touring).

    Conceived as a back-to-basics model based upon the standard 911 Carrera, the 911 Carrera T revives the puristic approach brought to earlier 911 models, including its 1968 namesake the 911 T, with a stripped out interior and the adoption of a series of performance enhancing features not usually made available on the 911 Carrera in a bid to ramp up its dynamic properties and provide a more visceral driving experience.

    Available to order now prior to a planned start to UK deliveries in January, the new 911 Carrera T is differentiated from its standard sibling by a number of subtle exterior styling changes, including an altered front bumper with a more prominent splitter element, grey metallic exterior mirror housings, 20-inch alloy wheels, reworked slats within the engine lid and centrally mounted tailpipes pained in black.

    Buyers can choose between nine different exterior colours, including Black, Lava Orange, Guards Red, Racing Yellow, White and Miami Blue, as well as metallic Carrara White, Jet Black and GT Silver.

    Inside, there is a leather bound GT sports steering wheel, decorative trims on the dashboard, lightweight four-way electronically adjustable seats with so-called Sport-Tex fabric upholstery and 911 logos on the headrest and a shortened gear lever when specified with the standard manual gearbox.

    Among the weight saving initiatives brought to the new 911 model are door trims featuring nylon opening loops, lightweight glass for the rear and rear-side windows, a wholesale reduction in sound deadening material within the body structure as well as the deletion of the rear seats.

    There’s also a delete option on the Porsche Communication Management system.

    Despite the focus on weight saving, Porsche has provided the 911 Carrera T with a number of features not available for the 911 Carrera, including a standard PASM sports suspension, which lowers its ride height by 20mm. Buyers can also option the new car with rear-wheel steering.

    The result is a claimed kerb weight of 1425kg, some 20kg less than the standard 911 Carrera.

    The 911 Carrera T is powered by the same turbocharged 3.0-litre horizontally opposed six-cylinder petrol engine as the standard 911 Carrera. It develops 365bhp at 6500rpm, endowing Zuffenhausen’s  new back-to-basics model with a power-two weight ratio of 256.1bhp per tonne. By comparison, its more comprehensively equipped standard sibling boasts 252.6bhp per tonne.  

    Torque, meanwhile, swells to a peak of 332lb ft between 1750 and 5000rpm.

    Continuing the puristic theme, drive is channeled through a standard seven-speed manual gearbox imbued with shorter ratios than the unit used by the 911 Carrera as well as a mechanical locking differential to the rear wheels. A seven-speed dual clutch PDK automatic featuring a launch control mode will also be offered from the start of sales.

    Porsche claims a 0-62mph time of 4.5sec, which is 0.1sec inside the time of the 911 Carrera, in standard manual guise. It also says the 911 Carrera T reaches 124mph from standstill in 15.1sec.

    When fitted with the optional dual clutch gearbox the 0-62mph and 0-124mph times drop to 4.2sec and 14.5sec respectively.

    Porsche claims both gearboxes provide the latest in a long line of 911 models with a theoretical top speed over 180mph. The model, when on sale, starts from £85,576 in the UK, and deliveries start in January 2018.

    Read more: 

    Porsche unveils 911 GT3 Touring Package as 'purist's' 911

    Porsche 911 GT2 RS breaks Nurburgring rear-drive record

    Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series revealed at Goodwood Festival of Speed

  • The name game: how big brands name their new models Sunday 22nd October 2017
    Thinking up car names can be a difficult business
    A name can make or break a new car model - so how do firms go about picking them? We meet an expert in car naming to find out

    Seat’s decision to let the public choose the name of its new seven-seat SUV could be deemed either commercial suicide or a masterstroke in social engagement. 

    Granted, the likelihood of Seat ending up with ‘Cupra McCupraface’ was nil; the Spanish car maker carefully corralled proposals from the public through a selection process that culminated with a vote for four possibles: Alboran, Aranda, Avila and Tarraco. Nevertheless, the naming exercise is a break from convention, something that is increasingly important when it comes to dreaming up new model names. 

    Seat reveals last four potential names for new SUV

    When a car company needs a name, it will often call on a branding expert such as Robert Pyrah, head of strategy at creative agency Brandwidth. While it might seem curious that a car firm would invite an outside party to christen its multimillion-pound baby, it is a legally complex and potentially fraught process that’s best handled by specialists. 

    “There’s a whole set of strategic considerations that come in,” says Pyrah. “A model name needs to appeal to the market space, to capture the essence of what the car is trying to do, but at the same time it must sit within the manufacturer’s corporate portfolio and perhaps a set of car naming conventions as well. And the other element is trademarking – is the name actually available?” 

    Traditionally, most manufacturers would favour consistency of naming. For example, Volkswagen would often name models after winds (Scirocco, Passat, Jetta), or Lamborghini would use the name of bulls. “There are historical heartlands where brands have tried to have product families, but they then try to stretch their portfolios,” says Pyrah. “Ford for years went with names beginning with F – Focus, Fusion, Fiesta – but then it has things like the Kuga and C-Max. Ford is trying to say: ‘Look, our core products are over here – these reliable-sounding, real words starting with F – and out here is a different name to signal a different kind of product’.” 

    The rise of model names based on invented words or adapted versions of existing ones is due to the dearth of real words that remain viable for use. 

    “In the mid-1990s, we hit peak trademark availability in terms of using real words,” says Pyrah. “Most real, emotional, fun, obvious words have gone. It has become harder to find natural-sounding words.” 

    The industry has adapted, but conventions run through market segments. Letters such as Q and K often denote ruggedness in the SUV sector (think Qashqai and Karoq), whereas E and I are common signifiers of electric and hybrid cars, which tend to have scientific- sounding names (Ioniq or Volt). “It only takes one company to stick its neck out in a particular style of vehicle and then everyone else starts doing it,” says Pyrah. “Nearly all SUVs have technical-sounding names. Graphically challenging letters like K and Q have become a convention. Also, changing the name [in this way] makes the word easier to trademark.” 

    As well as ensuring that the name is more emotionally resonant than one that a computer might generate, a brand expert will also ensure that the name works as well in Beijing as it does in Bayswater. In the past, there have been names that just haven’t translated well from one language or alphabet to another. 

    “You become aware of what works and what doesn’t,” says Pyrah. “For example, in the past we’ve looked at a name with a variation of ‘curve’ in it, but in some languages that is close to the word that means ‘prostitute’, so it just doesn’t work.” 

    And what of the future? With the trend towards ride sharing and autonomous vehicles, will people care what kind of vehicle they are in? “You’ll still interface with a brand, it is just a question of which one it is,” says Pyrah. “It could be the ride- sharing brand. This is probably why we’re seeing car firms inventing their own mobility companies, as VW has done with Moia. It wants to own that intermediary level.” 

    Pyrah admired Kia’s approach of putting disruptive punctuation into the middle of Pro_cee’d and Cee’d, even though the awkward convention was largely ignored and appears to have been dropped: “You’re always trying to do something different. With the likes of Kia, it is to some extent what their master brand gives them licence to – it is being different, because how else does Kia look to capture market share? It does so by being the cheeky, quirky brand and daring to do what its rivals won’t.” 

    How reductive can car companies dare to be as they seek to differentiate their products? Pyrah says he has toyed with ideas based on symbols such as the equals sign and even a Morse code-style dot-dash – names that would make that staple dinner party conversation about which car you drive rather interesting... 

    How to create a new car name: 

    BREAK CONVENTION

    RP: “Vauxhall [until recently] had models that ended in ‘A’, such as Meriva, Mokka, Vectra and Insignia. The Adam was [an attempt] to launch a car that for Vauxhall was quite different, to capture the market niche that Fiat 500 and others were owning. The name was a signal that it was trying something different.”

    INVENT A WORD

    RP: “I really like Verso as a name. Toyota has been quite good at stretching naming styles without breaking its conventions. Verso isn’t a real word, but it is close enough and it has enough meaning – it sounds versatile – so Toyota has been quite clever.”

    GET TECHNICAL

    RP: “The Quattro is a name from the past that I love and that really resonates, but it also helped Audi to elevate itself from the middle market. The name was different – it says ‘four’, stands for power and speed, and just sounds dynamic. It did wonders for the brand.”

    PLAY TO YOUR HERITAGE

    RP: “Renault always used to use numbers as model names, but it later went to French-sounding words, such as Zoe and Espace. I would imagine that in a crowded market, with plenty of rivals also using alphanumerics for their models, Renault decided to make a virtue of being French.”

    Read more

    Seat reveals last four potential names for new SUV

    Seat Ateca review 

    Seat Ibiza review

    Seat Leon SC review

  • Dyson's electric car - our vision of what it will be like Sunday 22nd October 2017
    Dyson promises its first car will not be a 'me-too' EV. It will be bold, radical and different. So what, exactly, will it be like?

    Dyson, the innovative UK electrical appliance manufacturer, recently revealed that it is developing a “radically different” electric car that will go on sale in 2020.

    Dyson electric car to reach production by 2020

    The company is investing £2 billion in it and has a development staff of more than 400. Details of the nature of the car itself are scant, though. Sir James Dyson wrote in an email to employees: “Competition for new technology in the automotive industry is fierce and we must do everything we can to keep the specifics of our vehicle confidential.” 

    Despite this, it’s possible to hazard some idea of what a Dyson electric car might consist of, not least because Dyson himself has said: “There’s no point doing something that looks like everyone else’s. It is not a sports car and not a very cheap car.” On the basis of these not-insubstantial clues and others, Autocar has developed a projection of what the Dyson EV could look like and what features it might contain. 

     

    Dyson car - how we think it will shape up

    Battery and charging technology

    Removable cassette-style solid-state battery pack of various capacities and prices, mounted within double-skinned front bulkhead. Battery pack removable using engine hoist from covered slot forward of windscreen. Battery pack is structural and locks into bulkhead to provide substantial additional torsional strength.

    Solid-state battery pack developed by Dyson subsidiary Sakti3. Pack is lighter and more energy dense than lithium ion packs and needs little cooling, further reducing weight and the need for control systems. Pack offered with two different ranges, to suit short and long-distance users, and to offer a lower base price.

    Solar roof panel. Solar panels in semi-horizontal rear wheelarches and bonnet, too. Solar panels used to drive HVAC when car is stationary and remotely programmed to warm/cool before usage 

    Drivetrain and ride

    Two Dyson-developed high-power electric motors drive front wheels and double as generator. Smaller motor/ generator for rear wheels to increase power regeneration and provide part-time four- wheel drive.

    High-profile tyres for improved ride. Tyres self-coloured in Dyson grey.

    Narrow, lightweight wheels reduce weight, inertia, road noise and cost of replacement and improve turning circle.

    Exterior and bodywork

    Dyson Airblade windscreen clearing system. Heated screen cleared by 400mph air jets with water-injected wash function. Similar system used for rear window.

    Composite, self-coloured, non-structural, exterior panels. Skin panels attached to inner frames using Velcro.

    Vehicle is lightweight, all-purpose family car of clean, spare and functional design, but not sparse or utility.

    Premium finish underlines premium pricing that also provides value through intelligent design.

    Car is 4.1m long, 1.75m wide and 1.5m tall.

    Five-door with coach rear doors. Completely flat floor.

    Overall design shaped by ‘form follows function’ mantra, as with all Dyson products.

    Lightweight composite moulded core structure. Bolt-on aluminium front subframe to carry motor, inverter and suspension. Rear suspension subframe mounted to reduce road noise, as per front.

    Inside the Dyson EV

    The cabin tapers towards the rear for improved aero and to create semi-horizontal rear wheel arches. Exterior skin and under-floor development are heavily influenced by Dyson’s air manipulation intelligence. 

    Fixed-position front seats feature composite frames whose outer structure doubles as a lower B-pillar for side-impact protection and to provide latching for coach doors and forward upper seatbelt mountings. Seat cushions are air-pump-adjustable bladders beneath cloth or leather upholstery. Conventional, lightweight rear seats have a 60/40 split folding facility. 

    There are electrically adjustable pedals and a four-way adjustable steering column. The heating and ventilation system is developed from Dyson Airblade technologies. The air conditioning draws low current and an air purifier is optional. 

    A compact dashboard is enabled by a space-efficient HVAC system and a Tesla-style central tablet display features. Key instrument readings, navigation and warnings are provided by a head-up display. 

    Startups show a hard road ahead

    Apple - Apple abandoned its electric car — Project Titan — despite investing heavily and having the resource to do so, and that could be an ominous sign for Dyson. The company is now concentrating solely on autonomous car technologies. 

    Google Google’s bizarre pod-like autonomous vehicles are a familiar online sight, but its Waymo automobile division now looks likely to share Google’s autonomous technology with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles rather than developing its own vehicles. 

    Faraday Future - Chinese-backed California-based Faraday Future showed its car — in an embarrassing, malfunctioning manner — at this year’s CES expo, announced a Nevada factory and then unannounced it following financial difficulties that could well sink the company. 

    Related stories: 

    Dyson electric car to reach production by 2020

    Why is Dyson launching an electric car?

    Sir James Dyson on what cars really need 

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